When work takes over

A cherry tree

Anyone who works in software knows the dread of release week – or in the current case, release fortnight. Multiply by two and add two more supervisions, plus another, then add a customer install and test session. The result: chaos. I feel like an octopus. I’m trying to do my own work, monitor others’, keep a to do list of non-urgent right now stuff, respond to heavy handed requests for extra support, do my bit designing the next release, and keep my newbie manager informed. Oh and referee a disagreement between her and my work wife (total fail, brain ran out of capacity and I forgot a thing while trying to negotiate – didn’t make it worse but also didn’t solve the problem).

It was a busy day today before it started, after two other busy ones, and I looked at my calendar this morning and my to do list for the day with panic and fear. I’m a brave soul though and went for a run instead. Then I started dealing with the important things, attended meetings, and was eventually making headway, probably. Then my lovely work wife phoned with a manager crisis – I really shouldn’t have got involved. I knew I wasn’t quite listening 100% and I shouldn’t have agreed to follow up. But I’m really bad at saying no.

Between (and during) meetings I finally managed to review someone else’s content – horrified at the basic errors, I threw it back to them – something that I started before 8am and responded to at 2pm.

Oh the joys of release notes! Supposed to be written by dev and QA but it never happens. So in preparation for the customer test next week, I found myself writing them and figuring out one by one which fixes were in or out of the build we currently have and one we intend to use from tomorrow. Maybe.

To really mix it up at this point, there were build problems. I knew I hadn’t screwed up, I did something unusual yesterday and I checked and double check so why had it gone wrong? Answer: someone else turned something off! Gaaa more troubleshooting and work arounds. Seriously my build guy must think I’m a complete idiot after the week I’ve had.

Eventually I got to talk to my manager, but missed that bit of information and failed to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, there are extra requests to review interfaces and bug fixes and top tips flooding in. I had to say “no, it’ll be tomorrow”. Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, my fractious colleague (he’s can be both a real arse and perfectly nice and you never know which) started asking questions. Yep, that’ll be another “no, later”.

This was barely different from any other day in the last week. And the next week or so will be the same. Then hopefully there’ll be a lull (I love the lull, see The lull: and breathe).

In amongst all the really high energy, very busy, multistranded work stuff, we’ve kept the family afloat. The boys have been in all the right places with the right stuff – the cross country race was organised, the lost kit found. Ok so I didn’t realise I needed to request their school photos get redone (after my cross emails I’m a little surprised they didn’t just assume we did want them). But by and large no balls have been dropped.

Oh except that one other important part of life – friends. My lovely friends who have been totally amazing looking out for me over the last year. I’ve been totally crap so far in 2020 and I’m sorry. My friend whose niece is in ICU with sepsis: I’m so sorry I’m not there for you more. My friend who had her birthday yesterday: sorry, no card or even a message (will do that now actually). My friend who went back to work after a year on mat leave: sorry I haven’t checked in properly to see how you’re doing. My friend with sleep deprivation and an angsty reception kid: sorry I haven’t asked how things are going with school.

Every time I look out of my kitchen window I see my beautiful tree you bought me. I see it and remember boy3 but also think of you all and how lucky I am. I’ve let you all down lately. I’m sorry. It’ll be better next week.

Anyone want a job in software and technical writing? It’s a lot of fun really, promise.

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